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As you travel for holidays, board pet or find a sitter

What do you do when your canine buddy or feline pal can't join in the holiday fun? Here are some options:

Boarding: Boarding is particularly popular among dog owners, but pet lovers say to book early as slots in kennels and veterinarians' offices fill up early.

Many facilities require boarding candidates to visit in advance to determine their compatibility in a canine group environment. Quality facilities also require proof of vaccines.

Boarding needs of a dog are different from those of a cat.

"We board both dogs and cats," said Lauren Lough, a veterinarian assistant at Briarcliff Animal Hospital. "Cats, unlike dogs, don't generally like to get out and play with other cats.

"But we do have the option of a daily 'happy hour,' if the pet owner wishes, so their cats can have exercise and interaction with a human," she said.

"Like the cats, the dogs also have time to get out. They can play in a covered run and are let out to use the bathroom — generally twice daily — or when needed," she said.

Professional pet sitters: Pet sitters can be found through mutual friends or on websites such as www.petsitters.org. They'll check in on the pet or pets at your home to make sure the animals have food and water, take a dog out for walks, clean the cat's litter box, and spend some time with them.

Friends: A good friend who gets along well with a pet may be the most economical option. There are multiple bonuses: You know the person, and the pet knows the individual, as well. Just make sure the friend is aware of where the food is kept, how much the pet eats and drinks daily, and whom to call in the event of an emergency.

Taking them with you: If you do take Fido and are traveling by plane, talk with the airline about charges and potential hazards during transport. Air flight can be potentially traumatizing, and many airlines require sedation for the pet.

If you're driving, it can be fun, or a nightmare, pet owners said. Cats generally don't enjoy car rides, unless socialized from youth. If you're traveling in a car with an older, inexperienced cat, keep the cat safe in a kennel. Don't forget to bring a small portable litter box.

Generally, dogs see road trips as a fun outing. Having doggie treats and chew toys can be helpful to keep them feel comfortable.

As you travel for holidays, board pet or find a sitter 11/26/12 [Last modified: Monday, November 26, 2012 1:42pm]
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